Men, Go Deep


Few plays in sports capture more excitement than a QB rearing back on his heels to launch a long bomb to a receiver deep downfield. The football hangs in the air, taunting fans, and raising adrenaline levels all over the stadium. Everything depends on what happens next.

Many of us men will recall days of backyard football, where we barked out plays in small huddles. Some of those plays were complex and needed a Ph.D. in neighborhood sports to decipher. Inevitably, though, one of those plays consisted of telling the fastest guy, “You go deep.”

We need deep. We need someone who is out there in case all else fails. When no other options exist, you can count on that one guy in the next Zip code, the one you sent deep, to save the day.

“Men, go deep.”

If I have a word for this year, it’s that.

What I say here isn’t specifically in the Bible, so you can take it for what it’s worth, but I think God made men to be deep. Deeper than women.

God gave women the gift of breadth. They have a social gifting that pulls in people from all realms and crosses social boundaries more easily. They are the roots of the tree that spread out to the dripline to capture the rain and find nourishment.

But God gives men the gift of depth, of being the taproot of the tree, the anchor, the leading edge, the part that goes where other parts don’t, that explores the boundaries yet holds it all fast. Being deep means you dwell in many places alone and unaccompanied. God alone can see you. God alone knows and understands your function.

I believe with all my heart that the combined social and theological crisis of our generation is a lack of men who are deep. Deeply rooted in God. Deeply committed to truth. Deeply in love with their Savior and not with anything or anyone else. Men who are deep because of their devotion to the only One who matters.

Men, go deep.

I say all this because it is my experience in this life. While I have met a few deep women, they are of a different quality than the deep men I have known. And those deep men are an increasing rarity.

Feminism hurt men more than we know. Whatever women gained by the feminist movement, men lost in kind. It was not a win-win. And when men don’t win, women don’t either. I think many feminists of those early days of the movement would look around today and wonder what happened to men.

Men don’t have any heroes anymore beyond fictional ones. Why are comic book superheroes our transcendent role models today? Because real men aren’t.

One could argue that younger men today manage successfully to dwell in the shadow of the full bloom of feminism’s flower, yet one could argue equally that young men today have responded by retreating into infantalism, stuck in the mode of Peter Pan, dealing with our cultural and societal experiment by forever staying 12 years old. Forever shying away from digging down.

But men go deep.

I don’t think there has ever been a time in human history when the clarion call for men has been more clear and loud. God calls for men to go deep in Him.

The challenge for men who heed that call is that no aspect of our culture or society supports depth. All of it, every shred, caters to shallowness. All of it is arrayed against God. Every little bit.

Men who go deep will have no support. Not from other men. Not from their wives. Not from their children. No one will understand the man who goes deep–except God.

If we want to point a finger at our churches and ask why there is no power, no revelation, no vision, no transcendence, no fire at all, it’s because of a dearth of deep men. Period. You can stop right there, because that’s the answer for almost everything that ails us.

Prostrate before GodYou can’t fake deep. You can’t look in the eyes of a shallow man and find wisdom, only in the eyes of the deep. And there are fewer men with that piercing, penetrating depth today, so good luck finding them.

Instead, you be that man. Go deep.

God holds out His hands to any man who will pull himself away from myriad distractions that hinder to instead find respite in the Him and go deep. You can’t buy depth. It comes only from intimate time spent with God away from the rest of the world. It means turning back to God every moment of every day. Again and again. It means having zero confidence in oneself, none, but taking it all back to God and operating out of His Spirit’s empowering alone. No substitute exists.

Men today want to be inoffensive, liked, entertained, in control, and successful by the world’s standards. Theirs is a wide, well-trod path.

The man who goes deep into God will be misunderstood, chastised, and even hated. Often by people who should instead be supporting his desire for God and the deep places God alone can take him. We used to have men like that. Used to.

Such men are our only hope.

Because the clock has wound down. It’s fourth and 25. Without a man open way downfield, there will be little chance for victory.

“Men, go deep.”

How to Ruin the Recipe for a Good Church


The Girl Scout cookies had arrived.

They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and to this I must attest. At least for this man. In part, anyway.

Samoas are the bullet train between my cardiac and GI functions. All toasted coconut, chocolate, overcooked caramel goodness in a cookie.

I opened the box and examined the current iteration of the cookie.


See, I remember back to the days of Ronald Reagan’s “America,” when a Girl Scout Samoa was a thing of epic scrumptiousness. A big ring of coconut not only run through with veins of caramel love, but at its core a solid ring of caramel that threatened to choke you to death if you ate the cookie too fast. As thick as an index finger, too, and the chocolate drizzled over that recipe of Samoa was substantial enough to be tasted in its own right. This was heaven’s own cookie.

Which is why the pathetic replica facing me disappointed so. That chewy ring of caramel? AWOL. Just a few streaks of caramel remained. The waxy chocolate barely made a difference in taste. The whole thing served only to remind me how badly this current cookie failed to live up to the gustatory genius of its forerunner.

It’s not a matter of cost, either. I think those of us who loved Samoas would have paid twice as much to get the old version that enslaved us so. I would.

No, it’s just the spirit of the age. More of that lowest common denominator decent into blandness and underperformance.

Some soulless bean counter sat in on a meeting somewhere and said, “People won’t miss _______ if we concede to cost realities.” He had to. Because that’s what bean counters do. Marketing then finds a way to spin the change when they should be the line of defense to say, “Whoa, Nelly!”

There’s always a way to make something worse. That the way to worse is so easy to find and implement…

The lesson for the Church  is to think and pray hard before jettisoning ANYTHING that is part of the recipe of the Church. If God is not specifically speaking by His Spirit to leaders regarding some big plan those leaders envision, just STOP. Chances are high that what comes out of the oven will be a tasteless disappointment.

Make a little change to a recipe and at first glance nothing may seem awry. Substituting corn oil for lard doesn’t seem wrong. Besides, it’s easier to find AND cheaper.

Tell that to the tasters when the goods are served.

But the neighbor’s recipe used oil!

The surest way for a local church to fall into the pit of lowest common denominator is to copy other churches.

Recipes are tricky. To replicate a successful one requires the precise amounts of the exact ingredients.

The same holds true for churches. Yet the conditions that led to success in one church are NEVER identical to the conditions at a different church. The Bible even notes this. Bad, burned cookiesWhen Christ speaks to the churches in Revelation, each has its own flavor, it’s own ingredients, it’s own challenges. The wrong mix of components (or the right components baked the wrong way), and the result is a flavorless brick. While flavorless bricks may sell to the unknowing, they are not satisfying.

Never replicate another church’s recipe. Doing so is the shortest route to the bottom.

Again, church leaders MUST listen to the Holy Spirit because He alone has the directions a local church must take. And those directions will most likely NOT look like the directions of some other church, no matter how successful the recipe at that other church might be.

Nor can a church make concessions. All of the world, society, and the forces of hell are allied in whittling down the Church one issue at a time.

Cheapen the ingredients. Call bad good. Cut corners in the recipe. Do what’s easier. Avoid the hard work. Rush the process. It’s what everyone else is doing anyway.

No one else will know, right?


Conceding to the spirit of the age leads only to a lowest common denominator Church, a bad, tasteless replica of the real thing.

I see the Church in America rushing toward the lowest common denominator. The converse, authenticity in Christ, is hard to develop and maintain, though. I realize that, but it’s what we need to aim for. Authenticity almost never looks cookie-cutter, which is why authentic churches have their own flavor and zest. Their ingredients are unique and hard to come by, but they follow God’s recipe to the T, and the result is delicious, just what the Master Chef intended.

Today’s church landscape is littered with a homogeneous blandness and lack of discernment toward the rapid approach of the lowest common denominator. If what was once perfectly salty becomes tasteless, what good is it except to be tossed out?

Easy Accountability, Hard Accountability


Iron sharpens ironIn my 35+ years as a Christian, I’ve heard a lot about accountability. In Evangelical ranks, the most common term of use is accountability partner.

An accountability partner is an individual who works with you to keep you on the straight and narrow. Iron sharpens iron and all that. In concept, it’s a nice idea.

It’s an easy one too. Maybe too easy.

The kind of accountability that an accountability partner provides, though, is that same kind of individualistic thinking about the Faith that seems ingrained in the American Church (see “The Church, Corporate Sin, and Christ as Community Savior“).

But there’s a harder accountability. Way hard. And perhaps because it’s hard, I hear about it as often as I hear about adding a Swahili-language service on Tuesday nights.

I’d like to see some accountability for all the prophecies and words of knowledge/wisdom some dole out that never come to pass. And I’d like to see the people who receive those words stop making excuses for their failures or for the people who pronounced them.

I’d like to see some accountability for all the times we go on and on about how radically “touched” our youth were at the retreat/conference/lock-in/whatever only to have those example youth walk away from the Church the second they graduate high school.

I’d like to see some accountability for the fact that so few of our church discipleship programs are effective enough to raise a church’s leadership from within so a church doesn’t have to scout the country for someone to lead it.

I’d like to see some accountability for the fact that we have thousands of Christian conferences around the country each year, and yet for all that wisdom being trotted out before thousands and millions, the trajectory of the general spiritual status of the populace of the United States continues sharply downward.

I’d like to see some accountability for the reality that most people who are on that downward slope only think about Jesus in negative terms because the people who represent Him are doing such a lackluster job of being excited about what they believe and sharing it in a positive way.

Getting an accountability partner for oneself is cake. Finding an accountability partner for the big “C” Church in America? Seemingly impossible.

I say seemingly because I don’t believe for a second that it really is as impossible as we make it.

As a whole, we Christians CAN do a better job. We CAN stop making excuses for the lacks. We CAN get serious about what we believe.

But we have to WANT to. And wanting to means dealing with the mess of the cleanup. We can’t kid ourselves about the job.

Do we want to improve? Or is taking the easy way all we want to be held accountable for?